Morbi flaunted its affluence when the ceramic industry associations and other organisations of the town weighed Chief Minister Narendra Modi in silver on August 21 during the inauguration of the new district.
The district has been carved out of Morbi,Tankara,Maliya-Miyana and Wankaner talukas of Rajkot district,Halvad of Surendranagar and parts of Jodiya taluka of Jamnagar district. It has tracts of fertile land,a patch of desert and sizeable coastline.
Morbi town is the district headquarters. The town has come to be identified for its ceramic industry. There are more than 400 units manufacturing various types of ceramic tiles and sanitaryware. Morbi is also known for the Ajanta brand of clocks. Promoted by late Odhavaji Patel,it has become a global brand of wall-clocks. Orpat,another well-known name in electrical goods,has its origin in Morbi.
Both sides of the 31-km stretch of National Highway 8 A,connecting Morbi to Wankaner,are lined with tile manufacturing factories. A few units have come up on the same highway towards Samakhiyali from Morbi and Morbi-Halvad state highway.
Besides supplying tiles and sanitaryware to the entire country,Morbi accounts for more than 80 per cent of countrys export in this segment,says Divyesh Patel,president of Morbi-Dhuva Glazed Tiles Association,one of the four organisations of tile manufacturers of the district. We export 3,000 containers,worth around Rs 120 crore,every month. This number is likely to touch 10,000 containers soon, he further added.
Veljibhai Patel,president of Morbi Floor Tiles Association,said that some indirect benefits would come out of Morbi becoming a new district. We hope to see improvement in basic infrastructure like roads,drainage and traffic. Besides,development of Navlakhi port is necessary to take the industry to the next level and further boost export business as traffic at Kandla port remains high. We need more goods trains to connect with Delhi and Mumbai, he says.
The administration of the new district has already drawn up its list of priorities.
We will try to lay a network of underground drainage line for the town in a year or so. We need to build overbridges or underpasses at railway crossings in the town to avoid traffic congestion. The state government has sanctioned a project to instal a new jetty at Navlakhi port at Rs117 crore. We will clear the pollution-related issues due to coal handling at Navlakhi,and an office of the mining department will keep any illegal clay and sand mining under check, says Collector Shailesh Raval,adding that the new focus area will be salt production in Samakhiyali and Halvad.
Before the emergence of the tile industry,Morbi was known for its high-quality cotton production. The state government project to provide Narmada water for irrigation in this region is likely to help agriculture.
Unlike neighbours Jamnagar and Kutch,Morbi does not boast of any power plants. However,a wind farm near Samakhiyali is generating green power for the district.
Raval was once the managing director of Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited,a state government-owned power distributor. He is confident that industries in the district will get the electricity they need.